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Break your Advertising V-Card: Getting the most out of your agency.

As a business owner, with every decision, no doubt at some point you’re asking the questions. How long will it take? What’s the cost? And what resources do we need?

This may elicit a very complex spreadsheet, project timeline or list of new requirements for resources for the task to be achieved. In some cases, partnering with an agency can feel like a natural extension of your team in order to fulfil the endeavours of your business at a much more effective cost.

From the minute we leave our homes, we’re instantly being flooded with information, content and some good, but also some very bad advertising.

Which makes competing in any market for such a small percentage of share in your customer’s mind can be very difficult, time-consuming, overwhelming and for some, very expensive.

But it doesn’t have to be, you just need to find the right partner with the right advice to help you find somewhere to start.

Unfortunately, in a lot of industries, there are individuals or organisations that paint an ill-picture for the majority of service providers with poor execution, blow-out of initial budgets or an un-promisable understanding of what you want to achieve in your business.

With any organisation, your clients choose you based on your story, why you exist and what’s in it for them. Which begs the question, are you telling the right story?

We’ve put together some tips for a few things to remember when hiring an advertising agency, so you don’t get caught up in something you can’t break free from. Hopefully, these tips will help you have a more meaningful and prosperous relationship with your agency partner.

Be clear on your budget and actual spend.

Your budget will always be the cornerstone of a decision, particularly with advertising so try to be as transparent as you can on what you can budget for your creative and media spend. It’s up to the agency to let you know what they can and can’t do within that budget — if their response doesn’t sit well with you, find another agency that aligns more with where you’re currently at in your business.

What if you don’t know what to spend?

List what you want to achieve out of your advertising and prioritise it. From there you’ll be able to establish a list of goals and reasonable outcomes. However, as a rule of thumb and depending on the health of your business, around 7–10% of your gross revenue would be quite a nice and healthy budget to get you moving towards some real results.

“I don’t know what I’m asking for, but know what skills I don’t have”

Ask if the agency will provide you with a workshop. This is a great way of establishing a relationship, but more importantly provides you with the opportunity to gain insight as to how an agency can help with your business, especially if you’re unsure on where to start. Remember, the insights and materials you gain from a well-run workshop won’t go to waste as you can use the information internally to better your own processes. A great workshop will draw out what you want to achieve and what your new business goals. For example, it could be that you need a better digital and social marketing strategy put in place to boost user engagement for your products, or you might need to run an integrated campaign for an event you’re trying to launch, or maybe you need to go right back to basics and find the true essence of your brand to better understand the value that you offer your clients.

Ensure to have a totally transparent and honest conversation

Firstly, if you’re the business owner, lose the ego and be ready to be vulnerable. A good advertising agency isn’t trying to trick you up on what you’re not doing — but there to help you plan and implement what your business might be able to achieve at every stage in the buyer’s journey to create a better and more memorable experience for your customers.

Ask questions about any technical terms, write them down and use as a reference for future use. Request reports and data on a consistent and accountable time frame. For example, each Monday of the week or the last business day of the month.

Consistent reporting of the data captured will help you to make better decisions and provide you with the insights you need to scale and grow your business.

This will ensure you have a trusting an open relationship with your agency if they’re representing your brand — you want them to be telling an honest story and that comes from your willingness to trust their creative process.

Clear briefing is essential.

As the client, you may have an account manager who will work collaboratively with the strategists and the creative team on an internal brief based on your discussion. The creative brief is a critical document in the creative process that links the client’s expectations with the agencies creative.

Talk about some bad outcomes that could happen from a bad brief and that spending the time to get a creative brief right is time well spent because it controls the creative process. A lot of (most times) times though, a client won’t ever see a creative brief. It really depends on how clear the problem is stated in the beginning.

Using an advertising agency is an excellent way to supercharge your brand story. You open a door to an expert team with skills and capabilities that helps you stay ahead of the curveball (and your market) without the expense of finding, hiring and managing an internal team of your own.

Want to know more?
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